[singlepic id=70 w=300 h=200 float=right]A popular option has been the inclusion of a “day hatch.” It’s a small hatch that is easier to access on the water than the main ones. It’s a good place to store a camera, water, snacks, maps or other things you might want on the while on the water. Usually they can be found just behind the cockpit, biased to one side or the other depending on the preference of the paddler. The opening is usually quite small (less than 8″ is normal). A third bulkhead is often installed creating a dedicated water-tight compartment that is separate from the other holds. If a wave hits with the day hatch open, it will only flood the small compartment.
A fairly new trend is to place them on the fore deck, in front of the cockpit with the hold between your legs. It’s much easier to access but does reduce the interior cockpit space which can feel claustrophobic.
The day hatch needs a system that is easy to open and close on the water and is water tight when closed. The other hatches on the Spray have lids that are cut from the deck and are held in place by internal bungee cords. They work great but can be tricky to reattach on the water, especially if you’re reaching behind your hip.
For this one Zack placed it in the traditional spot behind the cockpit. He won’t be using it often. A fore deck mounted one would interfere with leg pumping in his forward stroke and with the foot brace.
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On commercial kayaks day hatches are usually a big, clunky rubber lid. I like to use Beckson plastic deck plates. They’re available in screw-out or pry-out styles. Both are simple to install, easy open and close, water tight and fairly light. They each have their merits. The screw-out ones won’t pop out if pressure develops in the hold but are prone to jamming and leaking if sand/grit gets in the threads. The pry-outs are easier to pop back in place but can be difficult to open if your hands are wet. One downside is both require a flat surface for mounting. If you have a curved deck you’ll need to put in a flat recess for them to sit.
Unfortunately they’re not really that attractive.
What I’ve done on a couple of other projects (“Nereida” Njord and the “Neytiri” Night Heron for example) is to skin the plastic lid with a cutout of the deck. The frame gets mounted on the inside of the deck. The wooden lid gets glued to the lid and ends up being flush with the deck. So you have the look of the wooden lids, while utilizing the benefits of the deck plate. I’m doing the same thing on the Spray.
Here’s how I make them.
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This build will use an 8″ pry-out. First I marked the locations of the bulkheads on the deck interior. I then marked the position of the frame and the lid. I crowded it toward the cockpit so it’s easier to access and it keeps it (mostly) away from the aft deck lines. I did have to cut part of the frame that interfered with the bulkhead.
Next I sanded the top of the lid and frame. Doing so roughens it up so epoxy will bond to the ABS plastic. The deck ended up having a slight radius. I was able to sand the deck plate to the same radius. I ended up removing about 3/32″ of material from the edges. Since it will bonded to the deck interior, profiling the frame doesn’t lose any strength. Same thing goes for the lid. Sand just the top 1/8″ and you’ll have no sealing issues.
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Next I cut out the lid. The wooden cutout is exactly the same size as the plastic lid. The edges were sanded smooth and slightly radiused. I also sanded in the finger pull in the same location on the deck plate. On the screw-outs I cut openings for the finger tabs. Here’s a dry run of the frame clamped in place.
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Roughen the deck interior and bond the frame with thickened epoxy. Make sure to wipe up all the epoxy that squeezes out.
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Do the same with the lid components. Make sure the wooden lid is the correct alignment with the plastic lid. If you don’t the hatch will still close but the lid won’t be flush. I also drilled a few holes in the plastic lid to help eliminate air voids.
When cured, remove the clamps and the masking. The deck plate should work just like before.
You’ll see other parts of the finished day hatch, like nylon finger loops and tethers, during the outfitting stage.